Still on the run

July 23, 2008

Mehboba Ahdyar, the only woman on Afghanistan’s 4-member 2008 Olympic team, is still missing after disappearing nearly two weeks ago. Now reports are surfacing that she may be claiming political asylum in Europe, that she may be dropping out of the Olympics, that her parents may be imprisoned in Afghanistan if they can’t convince her to return. Not surprisingly, this story hasn’t really gotten as much press attention as it deserves. Because, you know, the American media has important things to cover — like Heidi and Spencer, or Sean Preston holding a pack of cigarettes.

The Olympics are supposed to be a symbol of pride and unity, hope and change. Countries send their best talent to represent them. A good team can give even a country rife with civil war and poverty something to cheer about side by side. Just look at the Iraqi soccer team of 2004! The Olympics give the world a chance to unite over something, if only for a few weeks every four (or two) years, all politics, gas prices, and wars aside. It’s considered a victory to see countries like Afghanistan and Iraq participating, but at what cost? Their female athletes still struggle against all odds to compete. The two Afghan women who competed in 2004 faced constant threats from extremists. One even left Afghanistan after the Olympics with her family out of fear for their lives.

“This is important,” Robina Muqimyar, track sprinter and one of the two Afghani women who were the first to EVER compete in the Olympics, said back in 2004. “The women of Afghanistan will know they can do anything, if there is hope in the heart.”

Did anyone even hear her?

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